Regardless of how the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of healthcare reform, costs are bound to rise for both employers and employees. In any and all events, businesses have every right and will be doing the right thing to continue shifting more healthcare costs on to workers because that and better employee engagement in health management is the path that will result in true reform.
Because the core issue in healthcare pricing is not to what degree the government mandates coverage. The core issue in healthcare pricing is that too many people are unhealthy.
The good news is that employees have the power to make themselves healthier and the stars are aligning for them to create this change in conjunction with their employers.
Companies are changing the way they interact with employees around healthcare, not just by shifting costs but creating wellness programs.Employers demonstrating that they care about the health of their employees goes a long way toward creating greater employee engagement. This is especially true for the Baby Boomer generation, which places a greater emphasis on health and workplace health benefits than other generations.
What individuals and employers should also reform is their sense of entitlement in the consumption of medical services, including pharmaceutical products. Speedier and more efficient medical records technology and the use of predictive analytics in healthcare coverage is showing cost containment promise.
Taking greater responsibility for one's health also means getting more exercise, watching what one eats and not leaning on a pill for everything that ails one. Obesity rates may have plateaued some in the past couple of years but they are still unacceptably high. Holding individuals responsible for their actions is something that should and can be part of not only the general dialogue but in premium pricing.
I do think workers will start thinking twice about whether a particular medicine or medical procedure is really necessary the more they are given responsibility for paying for that product or service. Companies have started down this road by shifting those costs and I think they will see results.
Healthcare reform, as imagined by the government, has good intentions, but true reform will come from business doing what it must to survive: That means transferring more cost to employees and giving employees more tools to help them be healthier.
DAN REYNOLDS is managing editor of Risk & Insurance®. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
June 1, 2012
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